Is a cold or a hot shower a good idea while you’re sick? Neither shower is going to cure your illness, but both can make you feel better, depending on exactly what’s going on with you.
Reasons to Take a Cold Shower When You’re Sick
Research from the Netherlands has found that those who take cold showers take 30% fewer sick days than those who take hot showers. The whole shower wasn’t cold, just the last 30 to 90 seconds.
This study doesn’t necessarily mean that cold showers actually make you sick less often. Cold shower participants reported being sick as frequently as hot shower participants. Instead, it’s more likely that a cold shower makes you feel well enough to go to work.
People turn to a lot of unusual comforts to try to make themselves feel better when they’re sick. A cold shower is one of those. Like any home remedy, it might make you feel better and it might not. It could, for example, soothe nerve pain, or even relieve delayed onset muscle soreness from a tough workout.
Other cold shower benefits may include:
- Higher sex drive
- Lower chances of depression
- Focus more easily
Longer exposure to cold water won’t necessarily increase the benefits, though, and it’s not worth being uncomfortable in the shower or damaging your skin. Although, if you want to see the benefits from cold showers, research does suggest you should end every shower with a few moments of cold water.
Reasons to Take a Hot Shower When You’re Sick
A hot shower is a much more common home treatment for illnesses. While there’s no research suggesting hot showers can reduce the time you take off work, there’s plenty that shows a hot shower can reduce your symptoms.
When you have a flu or cold, the humidity from the shower can help your dry sinuses feel better. You don’t even have to be in the shower, you can just sit on the toilet and breathe in the steam.
If you want the same effect but don’t want to waste a lot of hot water by running the shower, you can simply fill a large bowl with hot water. Lean over it and put a towel behind your head to collect the steam. Your sinuses will be refreshed, and you don’t have to use all of the hot water in your home.
Other benefits of hot showers may include:
- Falling asleep faster
- Reliving muscle tension
On the other hand, those with respiratory illnesses may find that the humidity from a hot shower or hot water hurts instead of helps, making breathing harder. And, those with skin problems may find that long hot showers may dry out their skin and make their problems worse. So, don’t push yourself or stay in the humidity if you become uncomfortable.
Whether hot showers or cold showers are a comfort for you, you may want to make your shower a little easier to sit in to enjoy, in case you feel dizzy while you’re sick. Consider installing a shower seat to sit on.